Chicago is a city known for its food. In a city – and suburbs – as wide and diverse as this, culinary excellence is to be expected. Pizza? Check. Hot dogs? Check. World flavors? Check. Chief among Chicago's food offerings, however, are sandwiches. The ultimate food, sandwiches can be dressed up or down, stacked high or kept simple. Check and double check. Here are five of Chicagoland's most popular sandwiches.
1. Ricobene's breaded steak sandwich. A Chicago classic, Ricobene's has been serving up crispy breaded steak with sweet tomato sauce, gooey mozzarella cheese, and hot giardiniera (a spicy veggie relish, also a local favorite,) since 1946. This sandwich is messy but delicious – eat it hot, and have plenty of napkins on hand.
2. Buona Beef. You can't talk "Chicago sandwiches" without mentioning Italian beef. It's a Chicago creation, and it's stood the test of time for good reason. Though deceptive in its simplicity, Italian beef is not the same across the board – one sandwich shop's not necessarily as good as another. Buona Beef uses a proprietary seasoning blend that's anything but bland. Served on a fresh Turano roll (a local bakery known for quality and great flavor,) accompanied by the ubiquitous giardiniera, and dipped in jus, Buona's Italian beef is an outstanding version of Chicago's most iconic sandwich, truly in a class of its own. Buona Beef also has multiple locations, including some throughout the suburbs, so if you're visiting a relative "in Chicago," only to find out their home is more like an hour away, you can still enjoy true Chicago flavor.
3. Manny's corned beef on rye. For over 50 years, Manny's has been dishing up corned beef and other deli classics, along with hot dishes that rotate daily. The corned beef is so popular, it's now carried in local grocery stores. Get it with sauerkraut or try it as a Reuben. Add pastrami or, a Manny's tradition, chopped liver. Get with a "side of 1000" dressing if you'd like. Any way you slice – er, stack – it, you'll love it.
4. J.P. Graziano's "Mr. G" sub. Graziano's started as a grocery store in the 1930's, and while groceries may be the "bread and butter" of the company, these days their sandwiches are all the rage. The company opened a sub shop inside its store in 2007, and its signature sandwich takes the "Italian sub" concept over the top. Sporting three types of Italian specialty meats and a host of oils and vinegars all working together to create a unique flavor, along with artichokes and fresh basil, this sandwich is certainly one of a kind.
5. Nick's Tavern's giant "Nickburger". Ahh, the humble hamburger. What makes it special? Nick's Tavern is one of those cozy, hole-in-the-wall type places, situated not in Chicago but in one of its original suburbs, Lemont. Featuring rich wood paneling, a selection of draft and premium beers, and a fully-stocked bar, this dim-lit hive offers a great burger – as in very. big. The "Nickburger," known since 1945 as "The granddaddy of sandwiches," comes with everything, including grilled onions, and you can add a bag of chips for just $1.00 – but the "Little Nick," actually not much smaller, comes with 'em.
Who knew the humble sandwich could be so elevated? Well, Chicagoans, of course! Quick to assemble but infinitely savorable, sandwiches deserve a more glamorous reputation. Here in Chicago, we're serious about food. The portions are large, the ingredients are fresh, the quality is high, the history is rich, and the sandwiches are… amazing. Featuring flavors as varied as the people who make up our fine city, you simply can't miss when you try one of Chicago's five most fantastic sandwiches.